What's the Point of an Exit Survey?

First you ask, what is an exit survey?

An exit survey (aka exit interview) is often conducted when an employee leaves the company. Human resources can use exit surveys to better understand employee retention and satisfaction. The goal of an exit survey is to obtain knowledge as to why an employee is leaving and what they thought about the company during their employment so you can improve employee retention and reduce turnover.

Common question topics

  • Reasons for Leaving
  • Job Satisfaction, Performance and Responsibilities
  • Training or Mentoring Programs
  • Supervisors and Management
  • Peer Interactions and Communication
  • Benefits and Compensation
  • Company Policies and Procedures
  • Organizational Culture

An exit survey would only be given to an employee when they voluntarily leave and is recommended to be conducted by a neutral party such as a member of the human resource team or a third party vendor. The employee might be more sincere or honest if they dont have to worry about burning bridges or possibly retaliation even after they have left your employment.

If someone is involuntarily terminated, they would be less likely to provide a valid and thorough response without frustrations or bias from their recent termination. I wouldn’t recommend an exit survey from an involuntary termination. However, it’s not always a terrible idea either as long as your questions are consistant.


This information can be invaluable to a company no matter how big or small. For example, knowing an employee truly enjoyed working for the company, but had a family emergency could show you are doing everything right and they regret the need to end their employment. Just the same, knowing an employee left for a better paying job could show your pay might be low for the market.


Not everyone is going to love the way you run the business or department. You will find positive feedback as well as negative but it is how you put this knowledge to use is what’s important. If the surveys are consistently advising your training program is missing vital information for the job, you know where to focus your efforts. Acknowledging the company can and will improve is an important step to growth and stability in your workforce.


Never retaliate!

You asked for the information, so expect some negative feedback. A disgruntled employee is more likely to escalate their frustrations or disagreements with the company. You are more than likely going to see a higher number of negative feedback than positive. Lets face it, most employees who leave are leaving for a reason and its important to value their feedback and implement any changes you can.

Many companies employ a neutral third party to complete surveys which can now be done via email, face-to-face, phone or online. My personal preference is online, as you can create an anonymous survey where a departing employee would not worry about giving their name or contact information. Also, a face-to-face exit survey can be uncomfortable for the employee and they may hesitate to be completely forthcoming with information. It is also good to use multiple choice answers to compare results.

Let the departing employee know their feedback will be evaluated by a human resource representative or management and that their comments and feedback is important. They need to know the survey they are completing will be looked at and not lost in the shuffle.

Do you obtain exit surveys? Are they valuable to your company?

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